$1,500 bonus offered to first 15,000 unemployed Kentuckians who get a job
In an effort to get more Kentuckians off of unemployment and back to work, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a plan Thursday to give a $1,500 bonus to qualifying Kentuckians who re-enter the workforce between June 24 and July 30.
The Beshear Administration also said the state will use $763 million in federal funds to help child care centers reopen now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Beshear said the $1,500 taxable bonus would go to the first 15,000 unemployment insurance claimants who return to work by July 30 and qualify for the incentive
Recipients must meet these qualifications: be 18 years old and live in Kentucky; be unemployed as of Wednesday; not have a return-to-work date; have an active unemployment insurance claim as of June 23; have requested unemployment payments in 2021; and go to work for a Kentucky business.
Employers will be responsible for completing an online application verifying that employees accepted employment between June 24 and July 30, 2021. They must also verify that employees worked 120 hours in the four weeks following new employment.
The Democratic governor said he will continue an extra $300 a week benefit for those unemployed who cannot find work. Those benefits are scheduled to expire Sept. 6.
Some critics have said the extra benefit should be stopped immediately, claiming it keeps some unemployed people from returning to work. The extra money pumps $34 million into Kentucky’s economy every week, said Beshear.
Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, criticized the back-to-work incentive program.
“Not only is paying people $1,500 to get a job extremely insulting to those who have worked throughout this pandemic, it defies logic that they would choose to do so as long as the additional federal payments are available,: said Osborne in a statement. “This is a classic government solution to a real world problem and problematic at many levels. The fact there are more than 100,000 available jobs, many of which already offer starting bonuses, should serve as plenty of incentive without a one-time payment. This is just another example of state government using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers.”
More information about the new incentive program is online at teamkybacktowork.ky.gov. The Public Protection Cabinet will administer the program and process applications, which people can begin filing on Aug. 2.
“We want every Kentuckian working and participating as we sprint out of this pandemic with our economy booming,” Beshear said. “We wanted the right solution — not a red state or blue state solution — to thread this needle right to energize our thriving economy while looking out for those still trying to emerge from this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic who desperately need help. This is a step in the right direction for our people, our economy and our employers.”
CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE
In addition to the incentive program, state Health and Family Services Secretary Erick Friedlander said the state will spend $763 million in federal funds to help child care centers. The money comes from the $1.9 trillion emergency relief bill — the American Rescue Plan Act —which provides economic relief to the nation’s families, workers and businesses.
Of these funds, $39 billion was specified for the child care industry, both for providers and to support families that need help paying for child care
“One of the greatest lessons we have learned over the last year is that child care is essential,” said Friedlander. “It not only supports children and families, it supports every other industry in this commonwealth. It’s time we recognize this not just with our appreciation, but with support such as what is offered with this incredible funding.”
Friedlander said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, in early 2020, Kentucky had the capacity to care for 165,314 children.
“We want to not only keep that number but make it grow with a more vibrant Kentucky economy,” he said.
Friedlander said the largest part of the funding — more than $470 million — will be for sustainability payments to child care providers throughout the state.
The remaining $293 million has been designated for increasing provider payments, improving payment policies, increasing wages for early educators and family child care homes, and increasing the number of quality child care options for under-served populations